Photos and text: Tiina Liimu
NAPALM DEATH – VOIVOD – EXUMED – IRON REAGAN – BLACK CROWN INITIATE – DAYGLO ABORTIONS, Rickshaw Theatre, February 17 2015
Amid a sonic output that challenges both Euclidean and temporal constraints, the “Through Space and Grind” tour moniker was no mistake; instead, call it a well-considered strategy for the genre-pushing vehicles piloted by Napalm Death and Voivod. With punk-metal crossover reduced the to prime elements of grindcore contrasting with the technical-progressive metal experimentation, maybe this was what was needed to tear open that sonic fiber for the subgenre evolution. As much a science fiction as it is about picking at the open wound of malcontent, and maybe that place hovering in the margins was insufficient for these coordinate-defying game-changers. Six hours of fueled up thrashing and three-decades of concertgoers was testament to this.
West coast punk insurgents Dayglo Abortions dropped in for a one-nighter on the Vancouver stopover since sharing the stage with Napalm Death for a set of tour dates in 2012. The newish Black Crown Initiate bridged the time and technology divide with their progressive death metal while Iron Reagan pumped up the punk metal crowd by halftime. Exhumed brought on some “Gore F*cking Metal,” self-effacing humor, circle pits and cut the cord on their set with a riff-severing guillotine execution.
Voivod hit the stage with their 2015 lineup of Denis “Snake” Belanger on vocals, Michel “Away” Langevin on drums, Dan “Chewy” Mongrain on guitar and Dominic “Rocky” Laroche filling the shoes of Jean-Yves “Blacky” Thériault on bass. They featured newer material from the 2013 Target Earth, “Klusap Okom” and “Corps Etranger.” The 2015 “We Are Connected” from a Century Media 7” split uncovered a much looser version in this live environment. The late 80’s back-catalogue came from Nothingface, including “Order of Blackguards” from Killing Technology and “Tribal Conviction from Dimension Hatrss. By the middle of their set, current members paid a strong acknowledgement to their former guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour (RIP), who will never be forgotten. The set crystallized with an outstanding take on Syd Barrett’s “Astronomy Domine,” with their first generation fans making their way through the floor to the frontlines.
Always candid, Napalm Death continues to rupture and tear away at the sticky dressing slapped onto fractured and tangled matters of technology, commerce and capitalism. Material from the 2015 Apex Predator – Easy Meat was spread throughout the set. The swift-footed front man Barney Greenway seemed unfazed by his broken hand in a sling, while the two constants of Shane Embury and Danny Herrera held up the back end with a no-holds-barred battery. One change was guitarist and friend Erik Burke of Brutal Truth stepping in for Mitch Harris, who is away from this tour for a family matter. A demonstration of a grindcore lineage was present with tracks from the seminal 1987 Scum – “M.A.D”, “The Kill” and the most direct and abbreviated blast beat on record, “You Suffer,” and was followed by late 80’s and early 90’s representation with “Wall Of Confinement” from the Mentally Murdered EP, Utopia Banished and Harmony Corruption, and cuts from From Enslavement To Obliteration. With the intensity and drive of a fighter mid-bout, Greenway works the audience into a frenzy with the Dead Kennedy’s cover, “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” The vigorous pace endures with “Everyday Pox” from the 2012 Utilitarian, finishing from their current 2015 album. A reciprocated Greenway leaves the stage, reminding folks to “take care of yourselves.”